Published May 28, 2015The scene as you walked into the BWR room at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) was definitely not your traditional live electronic event landscape. First, there was Billy Dalessandro himself, sitting face to face with his partner in crime, Manuel Bossard, aka Ombossa. While Dalessandro busied himself with recreating his newest album Boomers on his synthesizers and keyboards, Bossard was projecting and manipulating visuals that synchronized with the music. Second, there was the crowd, sprawled around the room sitting on the floor, completely entranced. This is definitely not your typical EDM rager.
The visuals recalled harsh, post-apocalyptic visions that wouldn't be out of place in the latest Mad Max instalment. Shots of arid deserts and vertiginous cliffs were distorted and tripped out, reminiscent of the shifting Icelandic terrain showcased in Björk's "Joga" video. Dalessandro describes Boomers as a psychedelic journey through the Southwestern United States, and while this is a very accurate depiction, it can scarcely convey the live experience. The presentation — a world premiere — was fully entrancing, and though a few attendees attempted to dance, the show was meant to be felt. This is what MUTEK is all about: pushing the boundaries of what we consider a live electronic event to be.
The compositions themselves were complex, dense and constantly mutating, at times fragile, almost whimsical, thanks to Dalessandro's soft classical piano playing. At other times, it was dark, intense and downright ominous. Bossard's visuals were always perfectly in sync, shifting from beautiful landscapes to dreary, kaleidoscopic distortions in a powerful showcase of their partnership. While this may not be to everyone's liking, with some participants regularly slipping out, others were slowly drawn in, taking their place in the crowd. Slowly, legs spread out, and people were lying down, taking it all in. The pulsating and mutating beats were perfectly accompanied by newer mind-bending desert visuals, making you wonder if you'd stumbled into an episode of Twin Peaks. There was an escalating percussive doom, joined by time-lapsed oscillating landscapes, as if you were witnessing the passing of society. It was an aggressive shift, but one that ended the performance powerfully.